Escape the Crowds and Take the Scenic Helicopter Tour to Everest Base Camp

Ever dreamt about getting away from the crowds and then finding everyone else has the same idea? Even the most remote corners of the planet are now swamped with visitors.  And I do mean remote. Take the highest point on the earth, for example – can you even imagine that it can get pretty crowded there too?  So how do you get away from the masses and still enjoy one of the best-known trips?  

Take the Scenic Route by Helicopter

Everest Base Camp lies at the base of Mount Everest in Nepal at 5,364m and is several days’ hike from the airport. It is no longer just the terrain of professional climbers but has become the playground for trekkers from all over the world.

If you love hiking, spending the trail might be your kind of holiday.  Sharing the trail and trekking lodges with dozens of other folks might not appeal to others.  It is for those who prefer the more unique, scenic, and silent tour I am addressing now.

The Everest Base camp heli tour takes five hours, during which you fly over foothills, pastures and settlements until you reach the high Himalayan mountains.  

Escape the Crowds

There are two alternative helicopter trips: chartering the whole heli for your own friends and family or hiring a seat on a helicopter along with others who seek escape.   Either way, seats are limited as the helicopters are small, as required to fly into high altitude conditions.  Normally there is room for 5 passengers and the pilot.  Definitely no crowds. 

On your chosen day, you will be collected from your hotel and taken to the airport to be introduced to your pilot.  Your pilot is your guide on this special trip, as with limited seating, there is no room for a mountain guide from your chosen trekking/ travel company.  Unless you want to hire the whole helicopter and take a guide and photographer, this is a possibility, should you have the desire and wallet to accommodate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For the majority, having a pilot point out sites of interest as you fly the 45 minutes from Kathmandu to the high-altitude airport in Lukla is sufficient. At Lukla, there is a refueling stop where you can relax to breathe in the air before setting off again.  

There are two other stops: one being close to Everest Base Camp, namely Kalapattar.  It is impossible to land at the base camp itself due to the nature of the area, but you will be able to see trekkers and climbers making their way up and down the trails leading to the great mountain as you fly above them.  The helicopter can land on a large flat ridge, Kalapattar, where the views of the mountains, including Everest, are better than those at base camp.  The reason is base camp is very close to the mountain – think about standing at the bottom of a large tree in the heart of the forest and looking up. That one tree is the only thing you see.  

Being at a high altitude is not recommended for people who are not acclimatized, so the helicopter can only stop for a short time.  Make the most of this experience.  Drink in the atmosphere and photograph to your heart’s content.  You want to record the panoramic views to show envious friends at home.

Climbing aboard again, the helicopter heads for a wonderfully placed hotel where breakfast is being served.  Definitely, this has to be the most scenic breakfast table in the world.  Sitting on the balcony sipping coffee while gazing at the Himalayas is definitely ‘getting away from it all.’

Tips on the Logistics 

You can either find your way to Kathmandu and book your own accommodation there or contact a travel/ trekking agency to arrange your hotel and sightseeing tours.  Even if you go independently, you will need to book the helicopter tour through a reputable agency as demand for this trip is high.

Helicopters are pretty much all standard in Nepal; none are more luxurious than others.  

Children and the elderly are welcome, as are those who may not be completely mobile, remembering that one has to climb in and out of the helicopter.

Should the weather not be suitable for the trip on the day you have chosen, it will be rescheduled.

Remember to wear warm shoes and a jacket. A hat and gloves are also recommended.  Aside from warm clothing, you should take some drinking water, sunglasses, and your camera.

My final tip: enjoy the serenity of your adventure!